Blue Jays hope Dickey toys with KC in Game 4
Ex-Met dreaming of potential World Series clash with former club
TORONTO -- So many variables would have to align in order for it to happen. Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Mets fireballer Noah Syndergaard. Once traded for one another, now pitted against each other with a World Series ring on the line.
On Monday evening, Dickey smiled as he allowed himself to picture that scenario in his mind's eye. First thing's first, the veteran Toronto starter needs to do his part this afternoon, when he will take on the Royals in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre (3 p.m. ET air time on FOX Sports 1 and Sportsnet, 4 p.m. game time), with the Blue Jays trailing in the best-of-seven series, two games to one, after an 11-8 win in Monday's Game 3.
For now, Dickey can dream a little.
"It would make for a great story, for sure," Dickey said. "What a script that would be, if I could face Syndergaard in Game 7 [of the World Series]. Wouldn't that be something?"
On the other side of the October stage, Syndergaard and catcher Travis d'Arnaud -- two of the players shipped to the Mets in the December 2012 deal that brought Dickey north of the border -- have helped New York to a 2-0 lead in the National League Championship Series against the Cubs. Syndergaard cruised to a win in Game 2 and d'Arnaud hit the Mets' famous apple with a towering home run in Game 1.
For Toronto, Dickey took the mound previously in Game 4 of the AL Division Series against the Rangers, using his dancing, diving knuckler to disarm Texas' lineup for 4 2/3 innings in a crucial victory for the Blue Jays. His performance helped pave the way for a win and, later, a Division Series triumph over the Rangers, punching the ticket to this ALCS clash with Kansas City.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons hopes Dickey's unique style can toy with the Royals, who will counter with right-hander Chris Young in Game 4 of the ALCS.
"It can throw you out of whack," Gibbons said of facing a knuckleballer. "It's shown in the past that [pitchers] that follow him the next day, there can be a little lull [from the opposing lineup], too. So, no guarantees, but we've seen a little bit of that. So, he might be the perfect guy."
Also playing into Dickey's hand is the fact that he will be pitching in the comforts of Rogers Centre, where a closed dome can help his signature pitch become even more unpredictable than usual.
Consider that Dickey allowed an opposing slash line of .296/.340/.469 on the road this season, but held hitters to a .197/.269/.346 showing in 17 starts in Toronto. Overall, the 40-year-old right-hander went 11-11 with a 3.91 ERA in 33 starts, in which he struck out 126 and walked 61 in 214 1/3 innings.
"I have good results here," Dickey said. "Everything, for me, works on being able to throw strikes with a pitch that's hard to throw strikes with. That's what makes me effective. If I can do that routinely, and the climate helps with that, it's certainly an advantage for me."
Following an incredible run to the NL Cy Young Award in 2012, Dickey came to the Blue Jays in a seven-player swap that included d'Arnaud and Syndergaard -- two of Toronto's top prospects at the time -- to Queens. Gibbons said he has not paid much attention to the development of either player, who have turned into key components of the Mets' success this year.
"Why would I follow those guys?" Gibbons said. "To be honest, I didn't follow any of them. But I watch the games, and I know how good they are. Mets are feeling good with them."
Dickey, meanwhile, said having the chance to face the Mets in the Fall Classic would be a dream scenario for him.
"I know that they're doing well as a team, and I'm sure those guys are a part of that," Dickey said. "And the hope when you make a trade, like the trade that I was involved in, is that it's good for both teams. That's the hope. And it certainly has been good for their team and it seems to be all right for our team right now.
"When I was a Met, I loved being a Met. I'm hoping that we play those guys in the World Series. It would certainly make for a great narrative."